Uncertainty and frustration followed an official
announcement earlier this quarter that the iSchool's MLIS Evening
Degree Program will now have to be self-sustaining as part of a $20
million university-wide reduction in funds. The decision to cease
state support of some of the stronger professional evening degree
programs at UW was made at the president/provost level as part of
a series of drastic budget cuts that have occurred across state programs.
While several details are still being worked out,
MLIS evening students will find the biggest impact of the change in
the way they register and pay for classes. Tuition, for the most part,
will remain the same, except for evening students wishing to take
10 or more credits. "We are hopeful that this change will have
a negligible effect on the iSchool and on students," iSchool
Associate Dean for Academics Allyson Carlyle stated in an email interview.
"In fact, we've worked very hard to make the impact as small
Evening students will have to register and pay for
courses through the University
of Washington Educational Outreach (UWEO) Office beginning winter
quarter 2003. But Carlyle was quick to point out that evening students
will remain iSchool students despite the administrative changes. "
heard concerns, the most significant of which is that some students
had the impression that they will be receiving their degree from UWEO
and not from the UW iSchool. This is entirely untrue - all students
admitted to the MLIS program and taking classes are matriculated students
of the University of Washington, the same as students in the state
supported programs. When they receive their degree, it is exactly
the same degree," she said.
Evening MLIS students receiving aid through the UW
Student Financial Aid Office will continue to receive their aid, Carlyle
said, though funds will now be disbursed directly to the student rather
than applied to tuition and fees, leaving the student responsible
for paying their tuition. Students with concerns about financial aid
should contact iSchool Student Services Administrator Lynnea Erickson.
Despite a minor technical glitch last month in the
entry code system, requesting entry codes will remain the same for
all iSchool students. Day and evening MLIS students will still be
able to request entry codes from (and later register for) each other's
course offerings during entry code period C. How the changes affect
evening students taking courses from another department is uncertain
at this time.
"The important things remain the same,"
noted iSchool evening student Amanda Powter, also a senator in the
Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS). "The requirements
in the program are the same. The instructors are the same. The schedule
of classes will be the same."
Powter said while the iSchool had the option to raise
tuition or shut down the Evening Degree Program entirely, the iSchool
opted to make the program self-sustaining. Several students have expressed
concerns to Powter about the changes, which she relayed to iSchool
Dean Mike Eisenberg at a recent student leader meeting. "These
changes are relatively recent, so the full impact of the switch to
the UWEO registration has not yet been felt," she said. Among
the main concerns expressed by evening MLIS students are tuition rates,
registration logistics, and degree status.
Carlyle said the short notice of the changes came
as a shock to many students and some faculty, but announcement of
the changes was postponed until the financial impact on students was
known. "It took us much longer than we expected to figure out
whether we could afford to offer the program at the same price as
before," she said.
While withdrawal of state funding for evening programs
left faculty and administration scrambling for answers and alternatives,
it also grants the iSchool greater control of its evening MLIS program
because "it allows the iSchool the opportunity to expand enrollment
in the evening program if the demand is there," Carlyle said.
"As a state supported program, we would not have the same flexibility."
For state-supported students, university and student
fees are deducted, then the remainder of their tuition money is allocated
by the central administration across UW, Powter explained. However,
in the self-sustaining model, MLIS evening students will pay the same
amount of tuition, as well as the normal UW and student fees (technology,
UPASS, student activities fees), but the remainder of the money goes
directly to the iSchool.
The UW Graduate School has several hundred more graduate
students enrolled than are currently supported by state funds, and
was required to identify ways of bringing the number down, according
to Powter. "Evening programs were targeted for a number of reasons,
including that they seemed to be the easiest and most practical to
make self-sustaining," she said.
And while the changes seem to be mostly under control,
both Carlyle and Powter admitted that a number of details that have
yet to be worked out may cause some problems down the road. "Unfortunately,
we know there will be problems," Carlyle said, "but we hope
that students will come directly to us when they occur, and we will
do our best to make sure everything goes smoothly."